Sadly, a lot of pastors deal with financial concerns. Even though the economics of ministry has evolved in some places, still majority of pastors today struggle in this area. As world-renowned researcher George Barna noted, pastors remain "the most underpaid professionals in the world."
Before and when Imelda and I got married, I made a conscious choice many years ago. It was to follow God's call for me to serve Him as pastor in His church. I knew it would pay nothing or little in terms of material resources. But I chose it, because God led me to it.
These past two years or so, I had to struggle with this issue in my heart. When we were just starting our family, Imelda and I were able to live with whatever I had in my modest pastoral salary. But now, needs tend to escalate as our three children -- Christine, Paul, and Angel -- have been fast growing up and going to school. What am I suppose to do?
Businessmen and economists talk about "opportunity cost" of money. It means that when you choose to spend money for one thing, part of the total cost is missing the opportunity to use that money for other things. That's also true of time and energies. By choosing to devote my time and energies in pastoring and full time church ministry, I gave up the opportunities to apply them somewhere in more "profitable" occupations.
Some time ago, I had a reunion with my high school classmates. We went to an expensive restaurant. As I talked with some of my classmates who have become wealthy, I found myself thinking, "I was smarter than these guys, got better grades, more recognized on campus ... and now they're making all these money!"
Fortunately, the Lord wasted no time in teaching me a valuable lesson. In terms of dealing with financial frustrations and possible resentment in my heart in the ministry, I know God is showing me something essential. When I remind myself of why I made the choices I did, it becomes easier to accept what God has given me in material resources. When I remind myself that I followed His call and whom am I serving, I feel much happier now.
Today, after almost 15 years of full time ministry in pastoring and teaching, the Lord has again helped me worked through my calling and situation. Actually, I'm getting more excited now as the days go by! I still have a heart of a pastor even though the Lord has been changing the forms of my ministry. God is also blessing our family in far greater ways nowadays.
I tell this testimony because there's a crucial spiritual lesson for all of us in the ministry. Indeed, we have to remind ourselves periodically of "why I'm doing what I'm doing." There is also a valuable reminder that ultimately, money is not the answer to the quest for the deepest, true meaning of and satisfaction in life.
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